George Person, who retired July 3 after 27 years at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has blown the whistle and accused NHTSA officials of refusing to release findings favorable to Toyota in its sudden acceleration investigation:
"The agency has for too long ignored what I believe is the root cause of these unintended acceleration cases," he said. "It's driver error. It's pedal misapplication and that's what this data shows."
Mr. Person said he believes Transportation Department officials are "sitting on" this data because it could revive criticism that NHTSA is too close to the auto maker and has not looked hard enough for electrical flaws in Toyota vehicles.
"It has become very political. There is a lot of anger towards Toyota," Mr. Person said. Transportation officials "are hoping against hope that they find something that points back to a flaw in Toyota vehicles."
(Update: Not noted by the WSJ: the head of NHTSA is a former lobbyist for the trial lawyers' association.)